Monday, August 29, 2011

Life in Botswana: Gaborone Recreation

Another excerpt from my parent's memoirs, Life in Botswana.

The baobab is found in the savannas of African and India, mostly around the equator. It can grow up to 25 meters tall and can live for several thousand years. The baobab is leafless for nine months of the year.

Ed thought that after 30 years of rest, his golf game would have improved, but not so. After taking one lesson and learning what had to be done, he quit – at least until he retires and has lots of time for practice?

There is a reservoir nearby, called the Dam, about seven miles long and averaging 1-1/4 miles wide. It is the only water view for hundreds of miles in any direction and we value it highly. In the middle of it is an island with a high point, and on top of this sits a pretty clubhouse owned by the Gaborone Yacht Club. We get there by a ferry which we are going to call the African Queen after its current overhaul. The Club has 150 members, most with families, of which about 30 are sailors. Most members are British, with a number of South Africans and former Rhodesians, and a handful of Europeans and Americans. Boatwise, there are 15 Lasers, five catamarans, six Mirros, a 505, two Finns, one FD, four Optimists (with an active junior sailing program), an Enterprise, three Hunter 19 keel boats, one Mistral (23 ft.) keel boat and some miscellaneous craft. There are also about 15 board sailors and 10 canoeists. Motors are not allowed on the Dam, except for emergency boats. Races are held every Sunday at 10 a.m. and we have 4-5 five-race regattas each year, sponsored by local concerns, including the Kalahari Brewery.

The Clubhouse has an active bar and kitchen, and a veranda with tables and chairs with a beautiful panoramic view looking five miles down the Dam. There are no buildings on the Dam, in fact there are antelope and leopard on the far shore, where the Club intends to set up another facility next year. A 12-foot crocodile was shot two months ago after having escaped from a nearby farm and exciting the whole community for four months. There is an active social program, including a joint venture Raft Race with the Rugby Club and a Guy Fawkes bonfire and fireworks party with the Capitol Players, an amateur theater group.

Ed became a committee member in July, 1990, and last February, when the vice commodore's employment contract was not renewed he was given this post. In July at the annual general meeting he was elected commodore, and so far is enjoying the post, with all of the challenges and problems that crop up.

We should mention the small game reserve which our town established about six months before we got here. it is less than a mile from our house, is about four square miles in size, and has a marvelous selection of animals. They stocked it with only a few of each species initially, but with the good rains in the last two years, the flora and animals have multiplied. There are about 20 ostrich, 30 wildebeest, 20 large kudu, many warthogs and vervet monkeys, 6-8 roan antelope, two eland (the largest antelope there is), some zebra, hartebeest and impala, tawny eagles, and two new white rhinos, for which a special paddock was built. With our little Suzuki Samurai, with the canvas top off and the windshield down on the hood, we often go on our own game drives!

Ed told an old friend in Johannesburg that he viewed our assignment in Botswana as an extended safari, and it truly is.

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